White Sox

White Sox 2005 Rewind: A.J. Pierzynski delivered one of baseball's best moments

White Sox 2005 Rewind: A.J. Pierzynski delivered one of baseball's best moments

It’s no less bizarre a decade and a half later than it was that night.

The night A.J. Pierzynski pulled a playoff win out of nowhere.

If you’re still arguing whether or not the ball hit the dirt, you’re missing the point. Fifteen years later, the White Sox long the winners of that game, that series and that world championship, watching Pierzynski run to first base and flip the 2005 ALCS on its head is like watching a movie you never get tired of.

Yeah, I know the Avengers win in the end, but that doesn’t mean I’m able to take my eyes off the screen.

Nothing about running to first base after you’ve already been called out fits our typical parameters for sports greatness. Pierzynski didn’t deposit a walk-off homer into the bleachers. He didn’t use blazing speed to beat out an infield hit. He swung at a pitch he immediately knew he shouldn’t have. He screwed up. What’s so great about that?

But baseball is entertainment, let’s remember. And there might not be any better form of sporting entertainment than seeing something you’ve never seen before — and haven’t seen since.

So I’ll argue that this is one of baseball’s greatest moments. Because it’s absolutely insane.

Pierzynski, apparently playing a different game in his head than the one the Los Angeles Angels were playing on the field, ignored the rules of the sport. Home-plate umpire Doug Eddings made a fist, made the call, and Pierzynski took off. Better safe than sorry, he must have thought, and indeed he did end up safe. I’m sorry?

The Angels stood around watching Pierzynski like he had sprouted octopus tentacles on his way down the base line. Mike Scioscia, their manager, was outraged, and rightfully so, that not only did Pierzynski flat-out ignore that he’d already been called out, but that the umpires then seemed to ignore that they’d already called him out, too. Everything about it pointed to Scioscia being involved in the most elaborate episode of “Punk’d” that Ashton ever drew up.


RELATED: White Sox Talk Podcast: Distant Replay: The Pierzynski dropped third strike game

Somehow, Pierzynski was safe. He didn’t even stay on the field long enough to witness the end of Scioscia’s pleadings with the umpires, bounding into the dugout with Pablo Ozuna taking his place as a pinch runner. Three pitches later, Joe Crede brought Ozuna home with a walk-off double. The White Sox won.

And everyone was still trying to figure out how.

We might never have an adequate explanation, part of what makes this all so continually hilarious.

But what was abundantly clear that night was that the White Sox offense needed a wake-up call. The South Side bats that used small ball, Paul ball and over-the-wall ball to win 99 games during the regular season and beat the brains out of the defending champs in the ALDS did none of those three things during the first 17.2 innings of this series. The lone run they scored in the first 8.2 innings of Game 2 came home on a ground out.

The pitching was sensational, of course, with Jose Contreras coming two outs away from making the eventual complete-game streak five instead of four in Game 1 and Mark Buehrle delivering what he called one of the best games of his career — before the no-hitter and the perfecto, of course — in Game 2. That pitching kept the White Sox close, holding the Angels to a grand total of four runs in two games, the same amount the White Sox scored.

But when Pierzynski baffled the baseball universe, he also lit the fuse on the White Sox offense. All it took was three pitches for Crede to blast a double to left field and win Game 2. Two nights later, in Game 3, the White Sox hung a crooked number in the first inning, getting an over-the-wall ball from Konerko. They banged out 11 hits in Game 3. Another three-run first followed in Game 4, thanks to another Konerko homer, and the White Sox scored eight runs for their third straight win.

The offense came back. Sleepy as could be in the wake of the sweep of the Red Sox, the franchise’s first playoff series win in 88 years, the offense was awoken by, of all things, a strikeout.

Play to the whistle? Hell, play past the whistle. You just might win a playoff game.

Keep reliving the White Sox march to the 2005 World Series with #SoxRewind, which features Game 3 of the ALCS, airing at 7 p.m. Thursday on NBC Sports Chicago.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

MLB The Show: White Sox beat Orioles behind Lucas Giolito's dominant outing

MLB The Show: White Sox beat Orioles behind Lucas Giolito's dominant outing

NBC Sports Chicago is simulating the 2020 White Sox season via MLB The Show during the postponement of play. The White Sox, stocked with young talent and veteran offseason acquisitions, were expected to take a big step forward in their rebuild this season. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

Result: White Sox def. Orioles, 5-2

Record: 27-29, 3rd in A.L. Central (3.0 GB of Twins)

W: Lucas Giolito (3-7)
L: Hector Velazquez (3-3)
SV: Alex Colome (9)

Game summary: After struggling to start the season, we saw the dominant Lucas Giolito return on Wednesday. He struck out 12 Orioles to lead the White Sox to their ninth straight win, putting them within three games of the division-leading Twins.

Giolito carried a no-hitter into the fourth inning and struck out 10 in the first five innings. He ultimately went seven innings while giving up one earned run and three hits.

Eloy Jimenez led the White Sox offensively once again, launching his league-leading 22nd home run in the sixth to give the White Sox the lead. An inning later, the Sox got a boost from Yoan Moncada, who hit a three-run home run down the left field line that just made it around the foul pole to put the Sox up 5-1.

Jose Abreu came into Wednesday's action with a 19-game hitting streak but couldn't pick up a base knock. He walked three times and went 0-for-1 against the O's.

White Sox lineup:

Edwin Encarnacion: 3-5 (.315 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI (.272 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 1-4, HR, 3 RBI (.255 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 0-4 (.252 BA)
Jose Abreu: 0-1, 3 BB (.305 BA)
Tim Anderson: 1-4 (.301 BA)
Luis Robert: 0-3, BB (.240 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 0-4 (.302 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 0-4 (.239 BA)

Scoring summary:

Bottom fourth:

Ramon Urias doubled to center field, Trey Mancini scored. 1-0 BAL.

Top sixth:

Eloy Jimenez homered to left field, Edwin Encarnacion scored. 2-1 CHW.

Top seventh:

Yoan Moncada homered to left field, Encarnacion and Jimenez scored. 5-1 CHW.

Bottom ninth:

Rio Ruiz singled to shortstop, Hanser Alberto scored. 5-2 CHW.

Notable performance: Encarnacion has been a force at the plate since taking over the leadoff spot and has been the catalyst for the Sox recently. His .315 average is 11th in the American League and his 40 runs rank sixth.

Next game: Thursday, May 28 - Game 57: White Sox at Orioles (Dallas Keuchel, 1-5, 7.71 ERA vs Alex Cobb, 3-7, 4.23 ERA)

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Did baseball just take a big step back in returning?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Did baseball just take a big step back in returning?

David Haugh, JJ Stankevitz and Scott King join Kap on a Wednesday edition of SportsTalk Live.

0:00 - The MLBPA says it’s “extremely disappointed” by the owners’ proposal. Is this just a negotiating stance or could we actually not have baseball in 2020?

5:00 - The NHL has a plan. The guys discuss the excitement of having the Blackhawks back in the playoffs.

8:00 - The NBA is still negotiating its restart. Should they scrap the regular season and start with the playoffs as well?

11:00 - NBC Sports’ Liam McHugh join Kap to talk about the NHL’s plans to return and how the Blackhawks might fare in the playoffs.

18:00 - ESPN ranks the Bears 21st in its power index. Is that about right?

Listen here or below.

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.